What is a House of Prayer?

The term ‘House of Prayer’ comes from the bible (the book of Isaiah, chapter 56) which Jesus quoted when he cleared the money changers out of the temple:

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Mark 11:15-17

Jesus did this on what we calm Palm Sunday – he had just been welcomed into Jerusalem by a crowd of people spontaneously waving palm branches and recognising him as the messiah. This was the most famous day of his life so far, and he had the attention of the whole city.

What did he do? He went to the temple and cleared it of anything that distracted from its purpose of being a place where people can encounter God. So the term ‘house of prayer’ sums up this idea of the prime importance of making space and time to seek God – to pray, worship, encounter him.

And so we take the name House of Prayer as an indication that our primary desire is to create space for seeking God.

So we are a community, not a prayer room. But we do long for a prayer room, and this is what we hope for:

  • A place set apart for being in God’s presence
  • Used by people from all churches and also people who just want to pray
  • Hospitable – a welcoming place for all people
  • International – celebrating the cultural diversity of the people in Southampton
  • Creative, visual, growing and changing
  • Persistent prayer for Southampton and beyond, bringing life and hope to the city
  • Young people will become a significant part of running it, but it will involve all generations